Cycling & Hip Bursitis

Bicycling is a sport that individuals of all ages can enjoy, but also comes with risks. According to the journal "American Family Physician," bicycle injuries account for more than 1.2 million doctor visits a year in the United States. The repetitive motion in biking can lead to several types of overuse injuries or strains, including hip bursitis. If you think you may be injured, it is best to see your physician for an exam and proper treatment, instead of self-diagnosing.

Mountain biker cycling on a trail outdoors (Image: Warren Goldswain/iStock/Getty Images)

Hip Bursitis

Bursitis is a condition that occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed. A bursa is a small sac, usually filled with fluid, that acts as a cushion between bones and soft tissues, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The bony point on the hip is called the greater trochanter, and there are bursa that lie over the bone, between the bone and the muscles for the hip joint, says the AAOS. When this bursa is inflamed, it may also be called trochanteric bursitis. There is another bursa on the inside of the hip; when this bursa is inflamed, the pain is in the groin area. Symptoms of hip bursitis typically include pain at the hip and may get worse with prolonged exercise or walking.

Cycling and Bursitis

According to the AAOS, hip bursitis can occur from overuse, especially with repetitive movements used in cycling or running. The "American Family Physician" states that hip bursitis occurs in cyclists due to the repeated sliding of the fascia lata over the greater trochanter. Riding a bicycle not fitted to you can also cause your body to work harder, putting more stress on the body and increasing the risk of overuse injuries.

Treatment of Bursitis

Once diagnosed by a physician through an examination, treatment for hip bursitis may involve abstaining from bicycling until your body has a chance to heal. Treatment may also include taking anti-inflammatory medication, icing your hip, or receiving injections of corticosteroids into the bursa, according to the AAOS. It is important to avoid activities that will make the injury worse during this time.

Returning to Cycling

If you return to bicycling too early, before your hip has had a chance to heal, you may be at risk for another injury, or you could worsen your injury and possibly cause permanent damage. Your physician or physical therapist will have you do certain exercises and help determine when it is safe for you to start cycling again. When you do return to cycling, you may need to lower your seat. Warming up thoroughly prior to a ride and stretching your hip and upper thigh muscles can also help reduce the risk of developing hip bursitis.

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